Steaming bowls of really good vegetable soup are one of life’s simple pleasures. We’ve taken traditional minestrone and given it an irresistible wintery twist by adding chopped kale and butternut squash. The Pesto Toasts are pretty irresistible too.
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- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 medium onion (diced)
- 3 cloves garlic (minced)
- 3 carrots (peeled and sliced)
- 2 celery stalks (sliced)
- ounce One 15– can cannellini beans (drained and rinsed, 1 ½ cups)
- ounce One 28– can diced tomatoes in juice (do not drain)
- 2 cups butternut squash (diced)
- 1 quart vegetable broth (plus more if needed)
- 2 teaspoons Dried Italian Herbs
- 4 cups chopped kale
- ¾ cup Basil Pesto (divided (recipe follows))
- 4 ciabatta rolls (halved)
- 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
- Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute for 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 30-60 seconds.
- Transfer to a slow cooker along with the carrots, celery, beans, diced tomatoes and their juice, butternut squash, vegetable broth, and dried Italian herbs. Cook on LOW for 8-10 hours or HIGH for 4-5 hours.
- Stir in the leafy greens and ¼ cup of the pesto. The residual heat will cook the greens without turning them mushy. If the soup is too thick, add more broth.
- Prepare toasts. Preheat oven broiler to low. Spread 1 Tbsp each on the top of each roll half. Top with the cheese. Place on a baking sheet. Broil until warm and bubbly, about 3 minutes. Serve immediately with the soup. Alternatively, toast bread slices in toaster and spread pesto on top. Omit cheese, if desired.
Notes: Can also use fancier Italian cheeses like Asiago, Provolone, Parmesan, or Fontina. Cooked pasta can be added to the soup, if desired. Adding uncooked pasta to the slow cooker can also be done, but it may become too mushy with the long cooking time.
GF option: use gluten-free rolls or hamburger buns for toasts.
If you’re a fan of pesto already, then you know just how versatile it is. We use it for all kinds of things – pizza sauce, to flavor soups and sauces, drizzling over roasted veggies, spreading on toast. It also lends itself to numerous variations – use different nuts or cheeses, try adding other herbs, even kale or spinach!
- 6 cups gently packed fresh basil leaves (about 2 large healthy bunches)
- 1/2 cup pine nuts
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Place the nuts and garlic in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. Add the basil leaves, cheese, and salt. Pulse until finely chopped.
- Turn motor on to low speed and pour the olive oil in a slow, steady stream through the feed hole. Process until smooth. Store in an airtight container in the fridge until ready to use. Will keep about 1 week.
Notes: Almonds or walnuts can be used in place of the pine nuts. Other hard grating cheese, such as romano can be substituted for the Parmesan. Other herbs can also be used in place of or in conjunction with the basil. We suggest trying spinach, kale, mint, and/or parsley.